Thursday, 28 February 2013

Red Velvet Cake Pops

Inspired by this beautiful blog Rhubarb&Rose I deigned to make some Red Velvet cake pops, just for fun.
April's blog has some beautiful photography and gives clear instructions and you can even go along to a cake pop class, which I think I definitely need to... next time my cake pops will be smooth!

My Red Velvet recipe came from Annie Bell's Baking Bible and the Wilton Candy Melts were from Sugarshack.

Red Velvet Cake Pops

Feedback from my tasters at work:
'Oh my God they're delicious!'
'What, you made these?'
'Very nice, moist inside.'

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The World's Best Street Food - At Home


This is a tantalising book with an introduction by Tom Parker Bowles and a host of contributing authors who have all traveled, sampled and recreated street food from all around the world.

For our Street Food Supper Club, we chose some dishes we had never eaten (or indeed heard of in some cases). 

First Course

Bsarra (Fez, Morocco)
A thick soup made from fava beans, slowly cooked with garlic, cumin and paprika.
Mushed up broad beans with garlic, some cumin for flavour and LOTS of paprika.


Second Course

Bamboo Rice (Taiwan)
Steamed rice (usually wrapped in bamboo) with shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, minced pork and soy sauce.
We had no individual rice pots, instead a large covered wok to steam cook, which gave us subtle flavours that matched the rest of the meal surprisingly well.

Cevapcici (Croatia)
Grilled garlicky skinless sausages accompanied by diced onions and ajvar (red pepper and augerbine relish) and sour cream.
Could not pronounce or remember the name of the dish until the very end of the night, but it was delicious, despite being pattie-shaped rather than sausage.

Red Red (Ghana)
Hot, sweet and spicy black-eyed peas paired with fried plantains, topped with zomi (red palm oil) and gari (fermented dried cassava powder).
This was my favourite dish of the evening I think, using the fried plantain to scoop up the spicy peas - recognising not an Asian spice, but an African one which was a first for me.

Black-eyed Pead. Plantain, Cecapcici, and Ajvar

Third Course

Phat Kaphrao (Thailand)
Spicy pork served with a sweet fish sauce and holy basil, served over streamed rice.
We all love a thai curry, but this dish had flavour and depth that, especially with the fish sauce drizzled over the rice, just oozed spice and texture.

Takoyaki (Osaka, Japan)
Tender chunks of octopus encased in a crisp puffy wheat batter, dusted with seaweed and bonito flakes, and doused with takoyaki sauce.
Japanese dumplings - we made it a large pancake due to lack of specialised equipment, but it tasted just great!

By this stage, we had consumed so much delicious food, and far too much wine, so we may have forgotten to take photos... those octopus dumplings were certainly memorable in their own way.

Atmospheric Photography: Shani
Equipment and Venue: Silke
Chief Chopper: Christoph

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Irish Soda Bread

My mum has been making soda bread ever since I was born, and a lot longer. It's a staple for breakfast, lunch, and in-between meals. She mixes it in about 2 minutes flat, bakes it for about 30 minutes, and it gets eaten as quick. The best soda bread in the world - no measuring, no timing, just knowing...
Soda Bread

A pound and a bit of flour 
A handful of raisins
A pinch of salt, a teaspoon or so of bread soda, and proper Irish buttermilk  - mixed and kneaded by hand

Baked in a hot oven for about half an hour
Divided up and slashed

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Raspberry and Passionfruit Roulade

I received this gorgeous Sweet by Levi Roots cookbook for Christmas and have finally got round to trying it out. If the name sounds familiar, it is he of Reggae Reggae Sauce, and Dragon's Den fame. 

Going round to a friend's house for dinner, I insisted on bringing dessert - any excuse! I made this delicious passionfruit and raspberry roulade, something I have never attempted before, despite admiring Mary Berry's efforts at the Cake and Bake Show. The flavours of the lemon, raspberries and passionfruit worked beautifully together, along with the light and fluffy sponge and sugared cream. Between the four of us, we somehow managed to polish off the entire thing...

Harissa Chicken and Rice Salad

This is a deliciously simple and healthy recipe from February's Good Housekeeping Magazine. I used a harissa spice mix, with some olive oil, which was rubbed over the chicken breasts. I resisted my usual urge to add extra chilli, but it didn't need it, it had enough of a kick to it to satisfy my love of spice. They used couscous in the recipe but I didn't have any, so rice did the job instead. Delicious.


These bourbons looked very tempting, I found the recipe in March's Good Housekeeping magazine. They tasted just like shop-bought ones! Better even... and addictive too.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Postcard From Ghana from TeamHonk - Red Nose Day

Three bloggers Team Honk have gone to Ghana for Comic Relief to raise awareness and to mark the 25th anniversary of fundraising fun. With Davina MaCall and Jonathon Ross, they are visiting four places including the Virtuous Women's Bakery, where previously unemployed women have banded together to launch a profitable bakery enterprise. As well as creating this community business they have also used the profits to set up an onsite creche, so they don't have to leave their young children while they work. The bakery was visited by Lorraine Pascale, as seen on the Great British Bake Off. 

They are three amazing women who have given their own time and are keeping us updated on their website and their own blogs. Well done, girls you are doing a wonderful thing.

You can also follow their progress on Mumsnet.

I am honoured to be a part of this inspiring and amazing experience.

Here is my postcard, from Penny

Dear Annie

She was so desperate for me to take a picture of her drawings on the chalk board! At the Virtuous Women's Bakery nursery. Great project that allows women to make a living making and selling bread while their children are cared for over the courtyard.

Love Penny
This is a digital postcard sent from TeamHonk (; during their travels with Comic Relief in Ghana celebrating #goodwork. 

For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Let’s Keep Up the Good Work. Find out how at

For other digital postcards please do join up and check out the linky on

Monday, 4 February 2013

February Supper Club - Chinese New Year

February 10th sees the arrival of The Year of the Snake.

With this in mind, the theme for this month's supper club was easy. I took this modern Chinese menu straight from February's Good Food, with recipes by Jennifer Joyce. A quick stop off at Loon Fung Supermarker on Gerrard Street in Soho, and I had everything I needed, including a couple of dragon hand-puppets for the kids. I served the whole meal as a buffet.

Salt and Sichuan Pepper Prawns with Chilli and Lime sauce

These prawns were tossed in finely ground Sichuan peppercorns, sea salt, black pepper and chilli flakes, mixed with a little cornflour and stir-fried briefly. The dipping sauce was absolutely delicious, made with crushed garlic, coriander, and chilli, with caster sugar dissolved in, and then mixed with lime juice and fish sauce. Served with pea shoots.

Smacked and Pickled Cucumber

Surprisingly simple, the cucumbers were smacked and chopped, and pickled with some finely chopped garlic, caster sugar, light soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, rice wine, and chilli oil.

Tenderstem Broccoli with Hoisin Sauce

The broccoli was blanched for about 5 minutes, then tossed in shallow-fried shallots and garlic, and drizzled with hoisin sauce. 

Gunpowder Chicken with Chillies and Peanuts

A beautifully authentic dish, the chicken thighs were marinated overnight in soy sauce, then seared in a pan. Then fried off 15 whole dried chillies, then with Sichuan peppercorns, spring onions and peanuts. A soy, rice wine, black vinegar, chicken stock, caster sugar and cornflour sauce was then stirred in unti the chicken was cooked and the sauce thickened. Of the 15 chillies, three were quite explosive around the dinner table!

Red Braised Ginger Pork Belly with Pickled Chillies

The star of the show - the hardest part of this dish was removing the pork belly rind, but it was well worth it, as the overnight marination in soy sauce and rice wine ensured a tender and delicious meat, when cooked in garlic, ginger and chilli, in a sauce of black vinegar, rice wine, sugar and stock for several hours, then scattered with toasted sesame seed, spring onions and sliced chillies picked in rice wine vinegar. Delicious!

Chocolate Sesame Balls

This recipe by Ching He Huang was more of a experiment than the rest of the menu. I've never made dough with rice flour before, but it was fun - especially trying to stuff the chocolate inside! I thought it was a little dry and indeed once the balls were cooked, they were indeed a bit chewy, so next time I would make them with more water. Perhaps the flour wasn't glutinous enough. The chocolate sauce was scrummy though.

Modern Chinese recipes were written by Jennifer Joyce and published in February's Good Food Magazine.

Photograph by David Munns. Food Styling by Jennifer Joyce.

Chocolate Sesame Balls recipe by Ching He Huang.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Easy Chicken Kebabs

This is a simple and quick recipe suitable for anyone on the 5:2 diet - basically a carb-free supper of 257 calories. Taken from February's Good Food where they served it with a butternut squash dip which sounds delicious too but I didn't have any in.

Marinate some chicken cubes in the usual spices - turmeric, cumin, coriander, and paprika, with a little ground cinnamon, crushed garlic, grated ginger, and a chopped red chilli for good measure, along with a lug of olive oil. Leave to marinade for about an hour.

During this time,you can make the dip, or, if you prefer, throw some salad leaves on a plate and relax with a glass of wine - this may mean you reach your calorie limit for the day though.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and grill for about 12-15 mins, turning often, until cooked. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, some chilli dipping sauce, the salad, and the rest of the wine, bearing in mind tomorrow is another day...